Istanbul, 16 May 2021 (Anadolu News)
By Associate Prof. Yusuf Ozkir
“Please remain,” the owner of the New York Journal, William Randolph Hearst, is claimed to have said in a telegram to an illustrator in Cuba at the time, during the last years of the 19th century; “… You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”
This unproven narration is one of the most obvious examples of how important the image or visual evidence is in journalism. It really emphasizes the importance of the image. It is this very reality that lies behind Israel’s ongoing massacre in Palestine on the one hand while intensifying its attacks on the media on the other. Israel has over the years come to believe that the more it can conceal its war crimes and massacres, and the more “bullets” it can fire at truth-telling content, the more “right” and “justifiable” it can remain. That is why, simultaneously with its massacres, Israel seeks to silence the media and prevent visual evidences from circulating far and wide. Many examples of this have been taking place right before the eyes of the world. Rather than listing them all one by one, I will just give a few examples to demonstrate that Israel’s aggressive attitude toward the media is guided by a specific strategy.
Interruption of communication and information flow
In many ways, Israel’s attacks in Palestine will go down in history as dark stains. Without a doubt, the massacre of civilians is the most heinous of these stains. In the second place is the bombing and destruction of all locations related to supplying water, electricity, and food, which, needless to say, people need in order to survive even in the direst of circumstances. These are also facts that fit neatly into the category of war crimes. Another striking feature of Israel’s attacks, however, is its media strategy, which I want to enlarge on.
We might argue that Israel has implemented a three-pronged strategy in this regard. The first prong aims to ensure that there is no news flow to the world from Palestine and Gaza, which has long been an open-air prison. To this end, Israel has been implementing an unrelenting policy of violence and aggression since day one to force journalists into leaving the area. Also to this end, bombardments have been carried out and real and plastic bullets have been fired with no distinction made between resistance fighters, civilians, or journalists. Turgut Alp Boyraz, Anadolu Agency’s (AA) Middle East News Editor, was hit and injured twice by plastic bullets, to give just one example. Anadolu Agency cameraman Muhammed Al-Aloul and photojournalist Mustafa Hassuna, as well as their driver, were also injured in Israel’s air strikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip. In addition, Israel bombed TRT Arabic’s office in Gaza, and TRT Arabic’s correspondents were seriously injured in those attacks.
TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation) and Anadolu Agency, Turkey’s two global media brands, are the most effective in conveying the Israeli massacres, occupation, and aggression against innocent civilians to the rest of the world. The fact that Anadolu Agency and TRT have broken the monopoly of one-dimensional pro-Israel journalism is behind The Jerusalem Post’s attempt to put them in the crosshairs in an analysis published on May 15. Most studies of the media-power relationship emphasize “the media of the powerful”, rather than “the power of the media”. Israel and Zionist Jews are so convinced of their position as the world’s only absolute sovereign power as a result of their global connections and relations that they cannot bear the disruption and exposition of their domineering fictions by rights-based journalism conducted by TRT and Anadolu Agency in accordance with universal journalism principles. In the analysis in question, comparison is made between Iran and Turkey, and it is stressed that Turkey, not Iran, defends Palestine in both traditional and social media.
Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has increased its investment in international broadcasting in recent years, resulting in an increase in the number of correspondents and channels broadcasting in foreign languages, and in the quality of the technical equipment used, as well as the expansion of the news network in parallel with these increases in quantity and quality. With the help of these, Turkey has achieved a capacity with which it is now able to generate a strong impact. It is worth noting that some of the world’s media outlets that are brave enough to discuss the incidents from a perspective other than the Israeli one use photographs and videos with the Anadolu Agency logo (AA), and some even use Anadolu Agency texts in their stories. This reality demonstrates Anadolu Agency and TRT’s journalistic success.
Bombing of the media
On May 15, Israel escalated its campaign to silence the media by bombing a building in Gaza that housed the offices of the Associated Press (AP) and Al Jazeera. Apart from the offices of these two international media outlets, this 60-flat building also housed cell towers that provided internet access to a large portion of Gaza, as well as offices of lawyers and doctors. Thus, with this bombardment, Israel has taken yet another step to prevent information and news from coming out of Gaza and to cut off Gaza’s communication with the rest of the world.
“The occupying Israel, which targeted the Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices in Gaza, is also dealing a blow to the freedom of the press,” Turkey’s Communications Director Prof. Fahrettin Altun tweeted in response to the attacks. “I strongly condemn Israel’s heinous attacks on press buildings in order to conceal its massacres,” he also said, implying to the world that Israel has committed war crimes and is attempting to conceal them.
Israel’s bombing and destruction of this media tower (the Jalaa building) while the entire world was watching on live television has become one of the most visible examples of Israel’s “libertarian” approach to journalism and global press freedom. Al Jazeera reporter Linah Alsaafin posted on her Twitter account that Israeli soldiers did not even allow the evacuation of the technical equipment of the media organizations, as requested by the owner of the building, Abu Husam, revealing once again that Israel’s main fear is the transmission of facts to the world public.
Israel’s second strategy towards the media is the disinformation bombardment. Israel is using its disinformation machine in addition to its efforts to silence independent media outlets and journalists who are not under its control by driving them out of the region, and bombing and directly targeting their technical facilities and capabilities. The journalism of global media outlets in line with Israeli interests, including renowned organizations such as Reuters, BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN and Agence France-Presse (AFP), has now become an obvious fact. Global media outlets that do not see the occupation and massacres of Israel construct the discourse of their content by placing the Palestinians at the heart of the problem. Without knowledge of or access to alternative media outlets, a Westerner cannot help but see the situation in Palestine in a completely different light. In other words, the media portrays Palestine as an occupier-aggressor, while Israel is portrayed as an oppressed victim and an entity merely defending itself against attacks. This unreal narrative has infiltrated so deeply into news stories and the angles of the visuals used that it takes some serious effort to avoid succumbing to the alluring power of these fictions. That is why, when creating content, it is critical to use words and concepts strategically. Otherwise, it will be impossible to avoid the repetition of the established news agencies’ discourse and the replication of this fabricated reality in the global news network.
The fact that Anadolu Agency and TRT chose to expose this fabricated reality and did not toe the line of the usual global media order lies behind the fact that The Jerusalem Post published an analysis targeting Turkey through Anadolu Agency and TRT on May 15. The Jerusalem Post team appears to be perplexed by objective journalism that shouts the truth to the world rather than merely serving as a conduit for the content of the global media order, one of whose primary functions is to justify the occupation of Palestinian lands. The truth, on the other hand, stands right next to them; once they are able to remove their “occupation-colored” glasses and see the truth for what it is, they will also be able to see the truth about Palestine.
Social media companies
Social media companies make up the third prong. Israel has been collaborating with these companies through its global connections and Zionist lobbies in order to prevent the circulation of anti-Israel content on social media. Many articles and images depicting Israel’s crimes and murders have been removed from circulation on the Internet by social media companies. Accounts depicting Israel’s massacres have had their interaction features restricted, and some accounts have been closed. The close collaboration between social media companies and Israel will undoubtedly be discussed more in the future. Restrictions and bot attacks on English-language posts stand out as particularly revealing of Israel’s relationship with social media companies. Without a doubt, this analysis could be expanded significantly in the context of the relationships between the owners of social media companies and Israel and Zionists.
Anadolu Agency and TRT convey facts
Ultimately, by cutting off the communication flow, Israel hopes to prevent the world public from learning about the massacres and crimes it has been committing in the Palestinian territories. That is why it is doing its best to silence the free and independent media. That is why Anadolu Agency and TRT, which work to ensure that the global public’s right to information is preserved, are being targeted. The goal of reporting is to convey information as accurately as possible. Anadolu Agency and TRT aim to convey reality as it is, without exaggeration or discrimination, and without concealing or fictionalizing anything. In this regard, they have worked to protect the international community’s right to remain informed about facts. That is why it is highly uncomfortable to Israel that some choose to go beyond the “embedded” journalism of “the guardians of the order”, which Israel has long been accustomed to.
Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.